A big “thank you” to Andrew Watt, for addressing the fundraising profession directly and forcefully: the days of passive gift collection are over. Now maybe we can get on with growing philanthropy and building a profession that can generate more than 2% of Gross Domestic Product.Our new AFP International President and CEO put in on the line. In today’s world, competition for gift income is becoming ever more intense. The charitable deduction is at risk. This will slow donors from making longer-term pledges, as they deal with uncertainty about whether their gifts will be deductible.Government funding is going down and more is being shifted to the private sector for support. Frequently, we talk about this issue in the safety net world. But ask a public college president about the level of state support. It is down as much as 10% to 15% for many. Ask the private college president about increasing tuition making recruitment more difficulty. Ask hospitals about the pending changes in healthcare and their reimbursements. So this isn’t a food bank or homeless shelter issue. This is huge.Also consider that the funder is looking for accountability and impact. Giving them the number of beds filled or classes offered, with a charming smile ain’t going to get it any more.The Philanthropy Journal quotes Andrew as saying “Fundraisers have to be the donor’s gateway to philanthropy. . . .Donors don’t always know how to best get involved philanthropically.” Amen.Here I go again: We must reform fundraising education to teach skills like marketing, sales, reporting, analysis, and product development. We must move away from the nice person, do-good, warm fuzzy approach of too many nonprofits.You know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those things that help successful people stay in business.Now, there’s an idea whose time has come.
Will You Be There When John Shamberg Calls?
A big part of fundraising is showing up and being available. I learned this lesson on a very memorable New Year’s Eve, a very long time ago.
As an eager young fundraiser working for Washburn University, I didn’t know that it was unusual still to be at work in the evening of December 31st. But, there I was.
Earlier that year, a graduate of Washburn University School of Law told me he was going to give a gift of land to his synagogue, a private K-12 school and Washburn. John Shamberg, who has since passed away, made millions of dollars for institutions all over the world, and he wanted to give a significant gift to organizations he valued. His 40 acres of land on the outskirts of Kansas City were valued at $450,000, and his intention was to give $150,000 each to three organizations.
He’d left the task to the last day of the year, but now he was ready to make it happen.
He called the synagogue. No answer.
He called the K-12 school. No answer.
Then, he called Washburn and got me.
“Bob,” he said, “you just won the jackpot!”
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